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NHL fantasy hockey: Eight rookies to consider with the last pick in your hockey pool

Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko and Cale Makar are going to be taken in your hockey pool, and they'll likely go early. Here are eight young guns who should still be available when you're ready to roll the dice in the last round.

Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko and Cale Makar are all but certain to be selected in your NHL fantasy pool this fall, and they’ll most likely go in the earlier rounds. Deservedly so, too, as all three young guns look good enough to step into the best league in the world and make an immediate impact. In fact, that’s exactly what Makar did when he joined the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs last spring after his NCAA campaign had ended.

But there are plenty of other rookies looking to make their mark in the NHL this season. The eight NHL hopefuls listed below haven’t received the same hype as Hughes, Kakko and Makar, but they might very well be part of the Calder Trophy conversation:

Sam Steel, Anaheim Ducks
It’s a changing of the guard up front in Anaheim – the Ducks could have four or five rookie forwards in the lineup on a regular basis – and Steel is poised to be the biggest beneficiary. Troy Terry and Max Comtois also rate consideration.
Best-case point prediction: 50-60 points

Karson Kuhlman, Boston Bruins
Undrafted and unheralded, he forced his way into Boston’s lineup in the playoffs with his speed and skill. Kuhlman looks good to make the NHL roster out of training camp, and the Bruins know he’s best-served skating on a scoring line.
Best-case point prediction: 40-50 points

Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have loaded up on lottery picks for, well, quite a while now. But they also found a blossoming goal-scorer in the seventh round (181st overall) in the 2014 draft, and Olofsson looks ready to bring his red-light act to the big leagues. The Swedish sniper scored 30 times in 66 AHL games in his North American rookie season last year, plus two goals and four points in a six-game recall with Buffalo.
Best-case point prediction: 40-50 points

Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes
Necas was anticipated to crack the Hurricanes’ lineup last season, but it didn’t happen as the 2017 first-round pick (12th overall) struggled in the early going during his first year in North America. But now that he knows the ropes -- and with Carolina looking for secondary scoring help – the door is wide open. He could be a top-six forward who gets time on the power play right out of the gates.
Best-case point prediction: 50-60 points

Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings
A big, scoring winger with the confidence to match, Zadina is another young player who started slowly last season. But it might have been a good thing. He was able to develop his game in the AHL rather than being thrown into the NHL fire. The Wings won’t rush him, but they could definitely use more scoring punch and he’s the most lethal weapon in the franchise’s prospect cupboard.
Best-case point prediction: 40-50 points

Nikolai Prokhorkin, Los Angeles Kings
He’s an old rookie at 25, but his only North American experience was an eight-game stint with AHL Manchester in 2012-13, the season after the Kings drafted him in the fourth round. Otherwise, he’s been plying his trade in the KHL, where he was a point-per-gamer last season. L.A. is looking to add youth and skill, and Prokhorkin fits the bill. If he impresses in camp, he’ll likely start the season on a scoring line.
Best-case point prediction: 40-50 points

Vitali Kravtsov, New York Rangers
Before Kakko, Kravtsov was the pedigreed prospect that the Rangers were waiting on. The No. 9 overall pick in 2018, he’s still only 19 and has yet to play in North America. The rebuilding Rangers aren’t in a big hurry, so they’ll send him to the AHL if they think that’s best. But Kravtsov is too skilled to stay there for long, and there’s a chance he ends up as the Rangers’ best rookie this season.
Best-case point prediction: 50-60 points

Drake Batherson, Ottawa Senators
He’s all but a lock to make the Sens out of camp after ripping up the AHL last season, not to mention an impressive 20-game run with the big club. He’ll get every opportunity to succeed in Ottawa.
Best-case point prediction: 40-50 points

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